Saturday, January 13

Yet Another Big Project Weekend

It seems like I have a Big Project every weekend. This one's going much slower than most, although I'm getting work done concurrently.

What's up? Well, I finally cracked open the "USB turntable" I bought a few months ago .. the iTTUSB from Ion Audio. Turns out this may will be significantly more tedious than when I dumped all my CDs to iTunes (last month). In the case of the CD media, I was able to read at speeds up to 20x (mostly were half that). As I'm moving the LPs (remember the 12" vinyl discs?) to my PowerBook, the speed's more 1:1 although the manual does explain how I can record at 45rpm and playback at 33-1/3 (likewise if I stumble across any of my dad's old 78rpm music).

This process also requires more BabySitting, due to dealing with aging vinyl media. Stuff about vinyl that I'd forgotten:
  1. records skip when there's an imperfection - when it happens the whole track's useless - if I really want it, I'll buy that song from iTunes for 99c each;

  2. setting up a turntable means having to deal with counterweights;

  3. it's truly a balancing act -- the iTTUSB stylus wants 4 grams of pressure (± 1 gram);

  4. most LPs hold about 22 minutes of music per side, so I can't stray far;

  5. bits of dust, lint, etc. contribute to snaps, crackles and pops;

  6. vinyl has what Trish-Bob calls a "richer sound" - no doubt;

  7. a Discwasher is very useful, removing Stuff from the LP itself, although I could stand some new solution - now D4+;

  8. vibration near the turntable is a problem - I can't toss stuff around during the recording process, like I do with an iPod or even CD media;

  9. unlike (most?) CDs, LPs usually are two-sided! the 2nd side is often called the "flip side" because you have to manually turn it over when the first side has finished playing: wow.
I was surprised to see some OSS [Open Source Software] being used as the default audio-editing application. The iTTUSB uses Audacity which has sufficient bells and whistles to get me into a lot of trouble if I stray too far from the defaults. I had to install a LAME library separately, to perform the transformation from AIFF to MP3, but even that's documented well.

Granted, I could just Cough Up The Cash and buy most of these albums off the web (some never made it to CD), but I'm enjoying listening to albums I haven't heard in 20+ years, so I'm okay with it, up to a point. There will also be some amount of post-processing, involving track separation and labeling (ID3 tags) which wasn't required with CD-ROM.

Seated next to the slowly-moving stack of albums is a stack of magazines (and eventually books) that have been in my [To Read] pile for much too long, so it'll work out well. That said, I suspect it'll take much longer to dump fewer albums than it took for my 500 or so CDs. Odds are this will turn into a multi-week effort, as I have a few hundred LPs to migrate, and am moving 4 albums every 3 hours.

The WeatherGuy is still predicting plenty (defined as 1/2" inch+) of ice during the current WinterWeatherEvent here. We'll see if the DallasHeatIsland allows the bulk of it to skip over the city and paralyze the nearby rural areas instead of us CityFolk.

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